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Poll: Few Americans believe natural disasters are signs from God
March 24th, 2011
02:00 PM ET

Poll: Few Americans believe natural disasters are signs from God

By Eric Marrapodi, CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

A new survey conducted on the heels of Japan's devastating earthquake and tsunami finds that few Americans think natural disasters are signs from God and that even fewer believe God punishes nations for the sins of its citizens, as some suggested after the Japanese disaster.

At the same time, most Americans believe God is responsible for everything that happens in the world, according to the survey, which was released Thursday.

The survey was conducted by the Public Religion Research Institute in partnership with the Religion News Service.

Fewer than 4 in 10 Americans (38%) believe that earthquakes, floods and other natural disasters are a sign from God, while roughly 3 in 10 believe that God sometimes punishes nations for the sins of some citizens, according to the survey.

Shortly after the Japanese quake and tsunami, the governor of Tokyo said publicly that the disaster was divine punishment for Japanese egoism, though he apologized for the remarks a day later.

A majority of people who self-identified as white evangelical Christians bucked the consensus against God punishing nations for the sins of its citizens, with 53% saying they believed that to be true.

Even more white evangelicals, 59%, believe that natural disasters are a sign from God, while only about one-third of Catholics and white mainline Protestants share that view.

Two thirds of white evangelicals also believe that natural disasters are evidence of the "end times," according to the survey.

The survey was conducted by telephone with 1,008 adults in the continental United States between March 17-20 as news was pouring in from the hardest-hit areas in Japan.

The margin of error for the survey is plus or minus 3 percentage points.

Read how prominent voices with different views on religion make sense of the suffering in Japan

Fifty-six percent of all respondents said they believe God is in control of everything that happens in the world, according to the poll.

And 7 in 10 Americans believe God is a person with whom a person can have a relationship, according to the poll.

But most Americans, 58%, said they attributed the increased severity of natural disasters to global warming, while 44% said they attribute it to what the Bible sometimes refers to as the “end times.”

The respondents tended to split along party lines - 52% of Republicans said the increased severity could be attributed to "end times” prophesies, while 75% of Democrats said it was the result of global warming.

“These kind of questions about God being in control and there simultaneously being suffering are the kind of things that keep seminarians up at night. They’re thorny theological issues. We wanted to see if we could get at it with polling to see what Americans think,” pollster Robert P. Jones, CEO of the Public Religion Research Institute, told CNN.

“We asked people how many were following what was going on in Japan, and nine out of 10 said they had heard a lot. This is something very clearly on the minds of Americans as they answered this poll.”

Jones said that where respondents worship played a big role in how they answered the questions.

“One thing that may be underlying this is how one approaches the Bible. Evangelical white Protestants are much more likely to take a literal approach to the Bible. In the Bible, natural disasters are used as a sign or as a punishment from God. Mainline Protestants and Catholics have a much less literal view of the bible,” Jones said.

Regardless of which pew American Christians find themselves in during the weekend, their beliefs about God’s role in matters like this are something Jones says brings a lot of debate.

Ryan Coyne, a philosopher of religion at the University of Chicago Divinity School, said, “What’s interesting is the disparity ... [between] the belief that God or the divine controls actions in the world and the reluctance on the part of some to attribute some acts in the world as punishing acts.

“There’s a reluctance to think of God as a punishing god. One must look for other explanations for evil in general if one is reluctant to attribute natural disasters to the divine,” Coyne said.

“Just by virtue of calling it a ‘natural disaster’ we’re asking is this ... outside of the reach of the divine,” Coyne said. “Five hundred to 600 years ago, there wouldn’t be the assumption necessarily ... [that] something like this was not directed by divine will.”

Regardless of the cause of natural disasters, the survey found that an overwhelming number of respondents - 83% - said it was very important or somewhat important to give financial assistance to Japan despite economic troubles in the United States.

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Belief • Catholic Church • Christianity • Church • Culture & Science • Protestant • United States

soundoff (976 Responses)
  1. ProveIt

    That is your proof of no God. Disasters on this tiny planet in the middle of space?

    Or Darwinism? Maybe Darwinism just is just a discovery of HOW God created humans? And the big bang is just HOW God created the universe?

    That does nothing to prove or disprove God.

    BTW- I'm still waiting on one of you brainiacs to explain how matter was created from nothing...

    March 24, 2011 at 5:49 pm |
    • donna

      Natural disasters aren't really a function of darwinism. Most evolutionary theorists consider them to be random evolutionary influences, while natural selection is not a random process.

      March 24, 2011 at 5:52 pm |
    • PraiseTheLard

      Some of us prefer the simple answer: "We don't know" to the fairy tales espoused by the deists...

      March 24, 2011 at 5:55 pm |
    • kaygee

      Are you referring the tentacled, meat ball endowed spaghetti monster or the made up God of fiction?

      March 24, 2011 at 6:01 pm |
    • NL

      Hawking actually said "Because there is a law such as gravity, the Universe can and will create itself from nothing."

      Now can you explain how God created everything including gravity out of absolutely nothing, which is actually a vastly bigger trick to pull off from wherever he (didn't) come from in the first place.

      March 24, 2011 at 6:07 pm |
    • tepeters

      Actually the latest theories in quantum physics do give an answer to before the big bang so the notion of things coming from nothing a moot point. It is called Loop Quantum Gravity in which the so called Big Bang is the end point of a contracting universe and from which emerged this universe. A supernatural big daddy is not required

      March 24, 2011 at 6:13 pm |
    • NL

      tepeters-
      But within that idea a survivor of the last universe would appear just as God does, right? Galactus from Marvel comics originated this way.

      March 24, 2011 at 6:20 pm |
    • Jeanine

      Your lack of proof of your god's existence (a continuous lack for thousands of years) is more than enough proof that your god does not exist.
      Get it, smug and arrogant pustule? YOUR lack of proof is all the proof I need to conclude that your god does not exist.

      Or put it this way:
      I could just say "I am not saying your god doesn't exist, but I have yet to see any proof to the contrary. YOU say there is a god, fine. You must have proof of it or you would not be able to say it truthfully. Therefore, you must provide this proof of your god or I will remain unconvinced. All I see is a lack of proof."
      All I see is a lack of proof.
      This lack continues to this day. The lack has existed for all of recorded history.
      YOU are the one saying your god is so wonderful. Fine. Where's your proof of it? Where's your proof of anything?
      Bah. Your god doesn't exist and you know it deep inside, for you have no proof.
      Simply saying something is so is not proof of anything other than the fact that you are a liar.

      March 24, 2011 at 6:30 pm |
    • tepeters

      Hehe NL I think that he would have to survive the big crunch that the theory implies-not likely. So no Galactus I am afraid

      March 24, 2011 at 6:34 pm |
    • Pathos with Ethos

      @Jeanine- What proof would you need that you would not dismiss? I always find this line of argument as odd in that you are requiring physical proof of a spiritual being. Fine, Jeanine answer me the following: How much compassion does your heart have? How much avarice is in your fingernails? How much beauty does your hair shed every second?

      Are these fair questions? You do believe that compassion, avarice and beauty exists right? Then why do I doubt you can give a scientific answer to my questions.

      March 24, 2011 at 7:15 pm |
    • NL

      tepeters-
      Hey, it worked in the comics so I can't see how it wouldn't work in theology. Besides, an all-powerful being like God could surely survive a little 'ol big bang, right?

      March 24, 2011 at 9:17 pm |
    • Atheism is the only truth

      Please explain how you know matter was created from "nothing" when the "big bang" is just a theory?

      Why do less (mentally) evolved human beings create and believe in "god" and/or any "religion" ?

      1. Causal Determinism (some humans are hard wired to need answers)...to explain phenomena, afterlife, the unknown they do not YET have answers for.

      2. Coping mechanism for Death/starvation/natural disaster/etc.

      3. Maintain social order, instill morality on society etc.

      The problem is when we don’t find a logical answer, we settle for a stupid one.
      Ritual is what happens when we run out of rational answers.
      Some people are afraid to look to science and accept that life might end at death and nothing follows afterward.
      To alleviate this anxiety and fear, they believe and have faith in the supernatural to help them cope.
      There is no proof that any god of any religion exists, and there never will be, because it's all man made and not real.

      March 25, 2011 at 12:51 am |
    • Jeanine

      All I ever hear from religious believers are reiterations of other people's words – "Pathos with Ethos" is one of these people.

      Rabbi Heschel was a very learned fool. He talked and talked about his god, yet never proved that his god even existed.
      Since he was so smart, he probably knew that there was no proof and so avoided any such question like the plague.
      In his book "The Prophets" one of his main points was "that the prophetic (and, ultimately, Jewish) view of God is best understood not as anthropomorphic (that God takes human form) but rather as anthropopathic — that God has human feelings." – wikipedia

      What a laughable waste of time it is to expound on a god, say he "has human feelings", and pat himself on the back for being so clever – much like "Pathos with Ethos", our latest spam-troll.
      What the rabbi missed was that, without any proof that a god exists there is no reason to assume anything about such a being – neither how people view this god nor the silly conclusions he draws without basis in fact or truth, such as this god having "human feelings".

      This is why I don't read religious authors – they never examine their premises but only jump to conclusions and build more silly conclusions on top of what they already assume are "universal truths" or some such nonsense.

      That he helped during our civil rights problems is commendable, but I would not trust him to tie the facts together regarding things about which he has no proof other than the usual subjective indoctrinated sort.

      I understand quite a lot about physics, and there is nothing in any of it that shows the slightest inkling of "intelligent design" whatsoever, btw.
      Proveit / Pathos is an irritant, but with a little thought one can dismantle his arguments because of the usual religious person's lack of clear thinking where their beliefs are concerned. Happens every time. Word games are not proof of anything other than the user's attempts to avoid the real truths of the matters at hand.

      Religion fails again.

      March 25, 2011 at 9:47 pm |
    • Lycidas

      @Jeanine- You are a hypocrite, you do realize that right? Did you independantly create the Big Bang theory? Evolution? Or did you learn from others and adapted it to your own way of thinking? To imply that religious ppl are just mouthing off other ppl's words without understanding them is foolish of you. You do it.

      "yet never proved that his god even existed."

      If you actually knew anything about the Rabbi, you will see that he proved God by his own defintion by serving the ppl. I don't expect you to understand it, and yes it's your fault you don't understand it not the Rabbi's or anyone else's fault. But hey, if you want to continue to trash a man that was big in the civil rights movement and even marched with Martin L. King Jr...go ahead. He felt strongly about social justice and help changed the world for the better. How did he do this? Because of his faith in God. What have you done with your atheistic belief?

      March 28, 2011 at 3:48 pm |
  2. dina

    I have a great deal of trouble understandng how intelligent people can accept a bool(the bible) as a factual truth when it is written by unknow men with their own opinions and how these same people can believe in a god like bding that controls the world. It is all so ludicrous to be, this belief in those things you can't see, prove and validate in any way. We live in an actual world with actual world problems that evolve over time which includes climate change and earthquakes. People don't experience tragedies because they are bad people.It is bevcause of where they live. If you live on a fault,it is more likely that you will exprience the earth's movement.If you live on the Gulf Coast, you might experience a hurricaine. None of this has to do with a god that is non existent or unprovable.No man is making things somewhat worst with the use of petrochemicals and excess use of energy which is cauing some of the global warming.That is provable, not this god thing.Plates in the earth move on their own.Hurricaines are weather driven.Snow falls. Nature happens.

    March 24, 2011 at 5:49 pm |
    • PraiseTheLard

      dina: you wrote: "I have a great deal of trouble understandng how intelligent people can accept a bool(the bible) as a factual truth..."

      You're overestimating their intelligence...

      March 24, 2011 at 6:08 pm |
  3. tepeters

    The Riddle of Epicurus says it all:

    Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then he is not omnipotent.
    Is he able, but not willing? Then he is malevolent.
    Is he both able and willing? Then whence cometh evil?
    Is he neither able nor willing? Then why call him God?

    Seems pretty airtight to me, unless you have faith, in which case logic doesn't apply

    March 24, 2011 at 5:48 pm |
    • Pathos with Ethos

      God formed the good and created evil.

      God is not human and his concepts are not our concepts and we would be arrogent to assume our standards are equal to his.

      March 24, 2011 at 6:03 pm |
    • Jeanine

      PwE – But you ARE arrogant and you DO assume that your standards are equal to his!!!!!!!!!

      You are even so arrogant as to presume to speak for your god! You even say you know what he thinks, feels, and how he judges a person even though you cannot see into a person's heart!!!

      You are so arrogant and bllind I have no words to express how horrible you are!

      March 24, 2011 at 6:21 pm |
    • Pathos with Ethos

      @Jeanine- I think you are a bit confused here hun. I am not talking for my God. I am merely stating a rational fact. Beyond the fact that in the Bible it says his ways are not our ways and his thoughts not our thoughts, he also told Job in his own way to be quiet because you don't know wat you are talking about.

      The Bible also said he formed the good and created evil. I am sorry you are not well versed enough on Christianity to know these things. But just in case you are not a literalist. You think it is more rational to think that a being that stands outside of time and space, that created everything we know and every human being, would NOT have a way of viewing things that would not be like ours?

      I think you need to calm down with your righteous anger.

      March 24, 2011 at 7:11 pm |
    • kite005

      Jeanine PwE is horrible? I don't think so. Go back to a news site and you can read about real horrible people.

      March 24, 2011 at 7:13 pm |
    • Spencer

      @Pathos with Ethos

      You got to love it when someone actually puts the two words “rational fact” together. First rational means in accordance with the principles of logic. Logic means the science that investigates the principles governing correct or reliable inference. Fact means a truth known by actual experience or observation. So based on your “rational fact” prove God exists or even what you say is really true.

      March 24, 2011 at 7:19 pm |
    • Pathos with Ethos

      @Spencer- I think you misunderstand about what I meant as a rational fact. Simply put, it's a fact that a rational mind can grasp. You have to admit, there are many facts that a typical mind cannot grasp.

      But you say, "Fact means a truth known by actual experience or observation." I have had an experience that proves to me that God exists. But I doubt that will change your view any. What you probably meant was a measurable and testable experience or observation that can be tested when you want to test it.

      March 24, 2011 at 7:24 pm |
    • Spencer

      @Pathos with Ethos

      "I have had an experience that proves to me that God exists. " Ummmm that is not a rational fact. – Get the picture....

      March 24, 2011 at 9:58 pm |
    • Pathos with Ethos

      Incorrect again Spencer because it is a fact to me and it was quite rational.

      March 24, 2011 at 10:21 pm |
    • Atheism is the only truth

      Actually god created primates in his image, we're just evolved monkeys.

      No religious person can ever provide any proof, but they can talk smack about how powerful and omnipotent god is. He/she/it is so powerful he/she/it can't provide a shred of proof he/she/it exists. Seems pretty weak to me.

      It's all excuses. Whatever helps you get through your day, you weak minded fools.

      March 25, 2011 at 12:49 am |
    • Dakota

      "Incorrect again Spencer because it is a fact to me and it was quite rational."

      LOL! What a stupid statement I have read in a long time. Thanks for the laugh! Santa is real, because it's fact to me it's rational. LOL!

      March 25, 2011 at 6:29 pm |
    • Ethos with pathos

      @Dakota- If that is what you believe, but forgive me if I call you a liar and a fool.

      Perhaps you can explain what is wrong with my statement. I doubt you really can because you don't understand it.

      March 25, 2011 at 9:45 pm |
  4. Karlotious

    How many believed that it was the work of the Earth and ya know all that science stuff that makes sense? Being raised as a catholic my entire life its amazing how people still retain such a strong relationship with an ideal that is holding less and less truth with every passing generation. I can't wait for the day when more scientific answers explain why we are here than faith leads us to believe. 🙂 So until then.... God the almighty I know you create the floods and the sky and everything around me...please do things for me cause I am too dumb to think for myself!

    March 24, 2011 at 5:47 pm |
    • NL

      Gaia is angry! She will shake us off like so many fleas sucking away her blood.

      Some natural process may emerge to wipe us out, but I'm banking on disease doing it. Better work on your cardio for when the running zombies hit the streets. The Bible says that the dead shall rise, after all.

      March 24, 2011 at 5:58 pm |
  5. Forgetmeknot

    Another survey shows that more than 7 in 10 people believe surveys.

    March 24, 2011 at 5:46 pm |
  6. ThereisnoGod

    I see disasters as a sign that there is no God.
    Can any of you stand still and do nothing while your children are dying? Thank you my point exactly.

    March 24, 2011 at 5:45 pm |
  7. ProveIt

    Nice job. Darwin. LOL!!! Fail.

    March 24, 2011 at 5:45 pm |
  8. elvisg

    While global warming is occurring it has nothing to do with earthquakes. Earthquakes have been around since the earth was formed billions of years ago. At the same time God, etc. has nothing to do with any of this. Natural laws like the movement of tectonic plates, etc. are to blame. Americans (in particular neo-cons/republicans/evanagelicals) are getting dumber by the day. The rest of the world laughs at us.

    March 24, 2011 at 5:43 pm |
  9. ProveIt

    For all of those who say God doesn't exist, prove it! You can't see him so it doesn't exist right? I got past that phase as a toddler when I learned I couldn't hide just by closing my eyes.

    Seriously, prove God doesn't exist. Prove how matter defied all laws of science and just "appeared" from nowhere. Prove how life somehow "just happened" when cells are composed of the same basic components as rocks. Prove why you can take a living cell, puncture it, and wait around forever and it won't spontaneously reorganize back into a living cell.

    So quit telling believers to prove everything. How about YOU prove something for once!

    I'll be waiting. Good luck!

    On second thought, you'll just start with "there was a big bang" and gloss over the fact that something must have created the matter that exploded. Something must have created the matter that created that matter. And so on. It's impossible. But it happened.

    March 24, 2011 at 5:43 pm |
    • Charles Darwin

      Have you read my book? What else do I have to prove?

      March 24, 2011 at 5:44 pm |
    • PraiseTheLard

      Surely you're aware that one cannot prove a negative... However, since you claim god exists, please prove it...

      Those of us who doubt the existence of your god are still open to other theories, should any proof come around...

      March 24, 2011 at 5:47 pm |
    • MS

      Christians have been using this argument for centuries. Google Russell's teapot for my answer to it.

      March 24, 2011 at 5:49 pm |
    • PraiseTheLard

      Oh, by the way, to which of the numerous gods that have been worshiped during mankind's history are you referring? And can you prove that he/she/it is the true god?

      March 24, 2011 at 5:50 pm |
    • NL

      ProveIt-
      We can just as easily ask you to prove that any of the other gods don't actually exist. For the same reason why you dismiss the existence of other gods we dismiss the existence of yours. Simple really!

      March 24, 2011 at 5:50 pm |
    • Al

      ProveIt, please PROVE to us that you are NOT an insane person. Go ahead PROVE it. We are waiting.

      March 24, 2011 at 5:57 pm |
    • donna

      Prove that Santa Claus doesn't exist. Prove that purple unicorns don't exist. Prove that when we die, we don't turn into invisible leprechauns.

      March 24, 2011 at 5:57 pm |
    • Pathos with Ethos

      @Donna- Why? Does any of what you plastered on there matter?

      How about you prove that you love someone. Prove that you are loved. Can you do any of that in a scientific way?

      How much compassion do you have in your heart? How much avarice in your eye?

      March 24, 2011 at 6:01 pm |
    • Eric

      Sorry, you're the one with the crazy hypothesis. When faced with two choices, one should select the choice with the most complete hypothesis that requires the fewest assumptions. In this case, the largest assumption (probably the largest one ever made) is that some being who by its own nature can not be observed or communicated with and has the power AND WILL to completely shape our universe actually exists.

      The onus is on you for the proof, and until you provide it the hypothesis from Science is more complete and provable. Science proves more each year than religion has been able to throughout time. The good news is, if your God gets tired of waiting around for you to figure it out, there's always the other Gods to play with. I heard the Flying Spaghetti Monster is having a poker game this weekend.

      March 24, 2011 at 6:01 pm |
    • QS

      "For the same reason you dismiss the existence of other gods, we dismiss the existence of yours."

      @NL – Well said!

      March 24, 2011 at 6:05 pm |
    • Pathos with Ethos

      "Science proves more each year than religion has been able to throughout time." Really? Can science answer:

      Who are you?

      What do you want?

      Why are you here?

      Where are you going?

      Do have have anything worth living for?

      Science can answer many questions, but it is limited in many ways. No one should ignore science, but no one should dismiss everything for their blind faith in science and the hope of an orderly scientific universe.

      March 24, 2011 at 6:06 pm |
    • slipheart

      @ Lard... I believe ya! Good line. I'm waiting for proof. If it a god that is destroying our planet, he isn't very nice at all...could be related to G. Bush and Company!

      March 24, 2011 at 6:08 pm |
    • Spencer

      @Pathos with Ethos

      Who are you? – human beings
      What do you want? – To live
      Why are you here? – To live
      Where are you going? – To Mars or any of the other 500 billion galaxies
      Do have have anything worth living for? – to form one global humanity.

      March 24, 2011 at 6:12 pm |
    • Eric

      Who are you?
      -Eric. Pretty sure I put my name up there.

      What do you want?
      -Cookies. Science has proven I have a disposition to eat cookies when offered the choice. It's Eric's theory.

      Why are you here?
      -To eat cookies? Kinda repeating myself here...

      Where are you going?
      -TO EAT COOKIES.

      Do have have anything worth living for?
      -Yes!

      Seriously though, God can't answer those questions for you any better than I can. Just because I build an ant farm and feed them and my sister sometimes comes in and shakes the place about or pours water on them doesn't mean those ants have any knowledge of my existence or that they know WHY I do anything. Maybe because I like watching them, they amuse me. Maybe I'm running some of my own scientific experiments. Maybe I'm cruel inside and like watching my sister tear the place up. Maybe only because my uncle buys lame birthday gifts. It would be preposterous for any ant to presume my will.

      March 24, 2011 at 6:15 pm |
    • Pathos with Ethos

      1. Who are you? – human beings (no, that is your species, not who you are)

      2. What do you want? – To live (no, that is not what you want, that is your organic instinct)

      3. Why are you here? – To live (again, your organic instinct, this is not why you are here)

      4. Where are you going? – To Mars or any of the other 500 billion galaxies (no, that is perhaps where our species will find itself one day, it is not however where you are going)

      5. Do have have anything worth living for? – to form one global humanity. (hmm, spoken like a true dictator)

      March 24, 2011 at 6:16 pm |
    • NL

      donna-.
      God is like a shepherd, so they say, but no shepherd actually has the best interest of his sheep in mind. They aren't pets, or even zoo specimens. The shepherd only cares for them long enough to sheer them and, eventually, consume them, right?

      Maybe ProveIt should start by proving that God isn't actually using the souls of the 'saved' as clothes, or snacks?

      March 24, 2011 at 6:16 pm |
    • Pathos with Ethos

      @Eric- First, cute answers.

      Ok, but seriously I never said God would give anyone those answers. My point is that science cannot give you those answers. To be honest, I would hope that most ppl on this planet would trade a million trivia answers for answering the question of "who am I?" or "where am I going".

      March 24, 2011 at 6:18 pm |
    • Spencer

      (no, that is your species, not who you are) – WRONG I am a human being.

      (no, that is not what you want, that is your organic instinct) – WRONG that is my mind.

      (again, your organic instinct, this is not why you are here) – WRONG that is my mind

      (no, that is perhaps where our species will find itself one day, it is not however where you are going) – WRONG – I am having my ashes dumped out of an airplane my remains might get there.

      (hmm, spoken like a true dictator) WRONG – but that would be a typical response from s religious person who believes in one dictator.

      March 24, 2011 at 6:22 pm |
    • Eric

      If the questions can not be answered with certainty then there is no reason to dwell on them. Just live your life doing what makes you happy. Thankfully most people in this country are happy when helping others, which is the one part of religion I am grateful for. Unfortunately many religious people also make the rest of us miserable, hence the hostility towards it and them.

      Two of my best friends from high school were both kids of a preacher. One had his dad teach him philosophy and was fantastic at debate and deeper discussions. The other could only use religion as a weapon and tried to convert me so many times and teach me why I am so wrong that I haven't talked to her in a decade. He world would be better off without the later regardless of which religion they call themselves.

      March 24, 2011 at 6:28 pm |
    • Eric

      Also, I enjoy not knowing some of the deeper mysteries. It keeps life enjoyable. If I knew with certainty what it all means and how it all ends, the journey would be a boring road indeed.

      March 24, 2011 at 6:31 pm |
    • NL

      Pathos with Ethos-
      "who am I?" or "where am I going".
      Poetry, philosophy and deep introspection can help you answer these, and all without resorting to belief in the supernatural.

      March 24, 2011 at 6:32 pm |
    • Spencer

      @Pathos with Ethos
      If I had used the word Ho-mo sapiens then that is my species but I specifically used the word human being which includes the ability to reason, to understand and reproduce compassion. A human being is someone in some way can contribute positively to the planet no matter what their place or condition.

      March 24, 2011 at 6:34 pm |
    • Pathos with Ethos

      @NL- Quite right, and what you described are not scientific at all. That was my point. At some point you have to have faith in the answers you get.

      To be clear, I have my beliefs and faith. I don't come on here to promote them over someone else's view of things. However, there are those on here that would chuck everything that faith and religion stands for away for a new faith in science. That I will stand up against. I feel both can exist in our world without any problem.

      I ma not saying you are that way NL, but some ppl on here are.

      March 24, 2011 at 7:01 pm |
    • Pathos with Ethos

      @Spencer- You say, "the ability to reason, to understand and reproduce compassion" as criteria for your definition of human being. But that I would say borders on a spiritual deifintion instead of a scientific one.

      But on your answer "to live", you must not mean life then but something more. Again, that isn't a scientific answer but one that is more spiritual.

      My point in all this is that science cannot answer such questions unless a person throws some kind of faith into the mix. Please don't think I am picking on you in all this, you just had the guts to actually answer in comparrison to the more cowardly on here.

      March 24, 2011 at 7:05 pm |
    • Pathos with Ethos

      @Eric- "If the questions can not be answered with certainty then there is no reason to dwell on them. Just live your life doing what makes you happy."

      But for many of us, to find the answers to such questions is our pursuit of happiness.

      March 24, 2011 at 7:07 pm |
    • Mark

      @Provelt...

      Nice try, but your wasting your breath. It all falls on deaf ears. And you get all the typical responses. You know...
      1. You can't prove a negative (very original that one is). Keep in mind. That's code for, "I don't have any answers, so let me pull out this cheap philisophical cr-ap that I read in a Chinese fortune cookie, and hope you move on to some other topic".

      2. Science is making new discoveries everday, blah blah...
      Yep, science is making new discoveries every day. But, the science that gives us technology today, isn't the same kind of scientific thought that says man evolved from apes and God doesn't exist. Evolutionists exploit the fact that most people confuse the two.

      3. Blah, blah....something about pink or purple unicorns and Santa Claus...

      4. I don't need no stinking sky fairy...or magic man...or walking zombie...etc etc.
      No, that may be true. A lot of people will make it just fine in this life on their own. They may have health, and family, and nice things, and get along just fine. But was happens after.

      Like the writer of Hebrews said..."It is appointed unto man ONCE to die, and after this the judgement".

      Every man and woman who has lived will one day stand face to face with their creator. Most won't be ready.
      "Wide is the gate, and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and many find it. But, straight is the gate, and narrow is the way that leads to life, and few there be that find it". Mathew 7: 13-14

      You know the truth, I know the truth, and everyone else who has trusted Christ knows the truth. We will always be the subject of ridicule and endless mocking.

      As Jesus said...."If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated Me first". John 15:18

      Keep the faith brother...

      March 24, 2011 at 9:20 pm |
    • NL

      Pathos with Ethos-
      Believing in science is not the same as having faith, I'm afraid. Science produces real, tangible results and is self-correcting. What it breeds is more a sense of confidence that the process is actually working towards finding the truth of things. It may explain why the sky is blue, how the universe formed, and why there is a diversity of life on this planet, but if people see a conflict in anything science has to say and their faith in God then problem is solely theirs. A strong faith in God will always find a place for him somewhere in the universe, and in people's lives. Arguing that science is somehow wrong is the greatest of follies.

      March 24, 2011 at 9:31 pm |
    • Spencer

      "Please don't think I am picking on you in all this, you just had the guts to actually answer in comparrison to the more cowardly on here."

      No Pathos that's called ego. Nice try. Duh!

      March 24, 2011 at 9:45 pm |
    • Pathos with Ethos

      @NL- I agree with you that science and religion can coexist. But what my overall point is that there are many that deny the possibility of God and raise up science so high, usually doesn't understand what they are holding up.

      It's my opinion that most ppl that believe evolution is true doesn't understand the ins and outs of it anymore than most Christians understand the ins and outs of the concept of true forgivness.

      March 24, 2011 at 10:17 pm |
    • Pathos with Ethos

      No Spencer, he had guts with answering. I know that's not what you mean but a friendly word of advice, learn how to express yourself better.

      March 24, 2011 at 10:18 pm |
    • Pathos with Ethos

      Ooops, correction. You had guts instead of ego when giving the wrong answers.

      March 24, 2011 at 10:19 pm |
    • donna

      @Pathos: "@Donna- Why? Does any of what you plastered on there matter?"

      You would have to keep it in context to understand why it matters. It was a response to Provelt's demand that people prove that god doesn't exist- he is asking people to prove a negative, and you can't. You can't prove that god doesn't exist anymore than you can prove that unicorns don't exist.

      "How about you prove that you love someone. Prove that you are loved. Can you do any of that in a scientific way?"
      You would have to define what you mean by love. We usually view love as a combination of behaviors/experiences. The people I love would consider my opinion of my feelings to be proof. Or if you want to look at the chemical processes involved- if that's what you mean about 'in a scientific way"- then your best bet is to take some classes in a cognitive science, or read some good books on the subject. Though I suspect you have no real interest in learning about the science of love.

      "How much compassion do you have in your heart? How much avarice in your eye?"
      Why are you asking me that?

      March 24, 2011 at 11:22 pm |
    • Pathos with Ethos

      @donna- My apology, I mistook what you wrote as another smartalic non-religious person's snide comment. I see what you were meaning now and you are correct. Sorry about that.

      March 24, 2011 at 11:32 pm |
    • Atheism is the only truth

      So, because you can't prove god exists, you want people asking for proof that god exists, to supply proof that something doesn't exist. That doesn't make any sense.

      If your god exists, you would have proof god exists. Boom, your world explodes.

      Why do less (mentally) evolved human beings create and believe in "god" and/or any "religion" ?

      1. Causal Determinism (some humans are hard wired to need answers)...to explain phenomena, afterlife, the unknown they do not YET have answers for.

      2. Coping mechanism for Death/starvation/natural disaster/etc.

      3. Maintain social order, instill morality on society etc.

      The problem is when we don’t find a logical answer, we settle for a stupid one.
      Ritual is what happens when we run out of rational answers.
      Some people are afraid to look to science and accept that life might end at death and nothing follows afterward.
      To alleviate this anxiety and fear, they believe and have faith in the supernatural to help them cope.
      There is no proof that any god of any religion exists, and there never will be, because it's all man made and not real.

      Once upon a time, it was necessary to have a god to be able to answer all the mysteries in the world. Science has eroded this need by discovering explanations for much of what humanity did not know at the time of "jesus", who never actually existed, the story of jesus is the same story told in other religions, tweaked to fit christianity, it isn't real. Of course, one would expect anyone, who has devoted their life to religion, to find reasons to believe in supernatural beings but they simply no longer fit. So, rationalizing is required to make them fit. And the emphasis is on faith because faith is the only way it does fit. But faith is nothing more that the ability to fool yourself into believing in the unbelievable. But much like children eventually understand that they were fooled by their parents into believing in Santa Clause, humanity is slowly growing out of the childlike phase of believing in supernatural beings. Imagine what it would be like not to have terrorism based on which religion you do or don't believe in. Imagine what it would be like if we did the humane and just things we should do, not because some big brother in the sky is looking over our shoulder but because it's simply the right thing to do. That is where the myriad versions of the golden rule come from – humans doing the right things because it's how they want themselves to be treated. This is why the number of atheists has been growing at a steady rate, and eventually there will not be a need for religion, because man will evolve out of this childlike phase completely.

      March 25, 2011 at 12:40 am |
    • Atheism is the only truth

      Actually, after reading your demented post again, you don't have all the answers, or know what happened at the moment of the big bang, or before, or just after, or if there was only 1, you really have no idea, and no one else does. It is just a theory. The fact that you are so mentally weak that you must associate something supernatural to answer questions you do not have the actual answer to, is pathetic.

      March 25, 2011 at 12:45 am |
    • Mark

      @Atheism is the only truth...

      Hmmm...Atheism and truth. That's kind of an oxy-moron isn't it? In this own words, Jesus Chris said..."I am the way the TRUTH and the life..." There, you wanted the truth. I just gave it to you.

      I especially like the way that atheist love to absolve themselves from any responsibility whatsoever when it comes to the debate of "does God exist?". From what I've seen and read, you really only need one answer and it appears to work in almost any situation....."you can't prove a negative". Nice little set of rules you guys have set up for yourselves. You can't prove a negative, and you won't let me prove a positive, so you win either way. This argument goes the same way every time.
      My question continues to be...what proof do you want? What's enough? What would you accept? I could point to proofs, but you won't accept em. I could point to scripture, but you dismiss it as a bunch of fairy tales told by "uneducated" and "superst-itious" men. I could point to Creation, but you'd scream Evolution, or Darwin, or "Science" despite the fact that the scientific evidence overwhelmingly supports Creation.

      All the evidence you need for the existence of God is available. You just have to open your eyes and accept it.

      March 25, 2011 at 11:04 am |
    • Ethos with pathos

      @Atheism is the only truth- We know who your god is: Copy/Paste

      March 25, 2011 at 3:30 pm |
    • Ethos with pathos

      @NL-"Believing in science is not the same as having faith, I'm afraid."

      Actaully it is when the person doesn't understand it but relies on it anyway. There are many ppl that are atheist that don't understand evolution or the Big Bang theory anymore than some Jewish ppl might understand the Tanakh or Christians that don't understand the Nicene Creed. Many ppl say they believe in evolution but don't have any knowledge in it and they follwo their own priest called a scientist and hope the person is right.

      March 25, 2011 at 5:18 pm |
    • Atheism is the only truth

      I would like any proof it is real, like anything else we have proven. Anything real would suffice.

      It's not possible, because it isn't real. If you look at the history of religion, and why religion was created in the first place, you will have a better understanding of where I'm coming from.

      The story of jesus is nothing more than a plagarized story, it's the same story used by other civilizations/religions around the world from when human beings worshipped the sun.

      Do religious people care to actually learn about these things that disprove their belief system? of course not, because that would be painful. They argue with people that ask for proof, such as myself. You believe something, yet you have no proof it exists, then you ask those asking for proof, to prove it doesn't exist... well if it doesn't exist, there won't be any proof, there you go, I just proved for you that it doens't exist. There is more evidence that religion is man made and god is more of a psychological crutch used by more primitive human beings (or brainwashed human beings), than there is of a supernatural being that controls everything, conveniently giving you the answers to everything you don't yet have answers to.

      I find religion ridiculous, as well as people believing something without any proof it it existing, the only 'proof' being other people telling them it exists, and reading about it in an ancient ignorant book, with ignorant stories, written by ignorant people.

      Thank goodness atheism is growing around the world and human beings are evolving out of the childlike phase where they needed to believe in something supernatural to explain everything.

      March 26, 2011 at 1:28 am |
    • Jeanine

      Atheism is the only truth – That is a great post. Worthy of reposting. Please do so!

      (but is "atheism" the only truth? I would rather say that what is actually true is the only true truth...lol)

      The part of me that misses religion keeps being disappointed in what brainwashed people keep coming up with in terms of cheap rationalizations for their outrageous belief structures. What we know of neurology so far is enough to show any reasonable person that religion and associated schizophrenic phenomena are all too easily explained by simple chemistry and physics.
      It is in physics that any hope remains for any religion or supernatural belief. Multi-dimensional physics and cosmology still contain enough "elbow room" for the possibility of something we could almost call "supernatural", yet all studies done to date show no evidence that this is actually occurring.
      That doesn't rule it out, however. Yet according to most reported religious beliefs, many of the usual attributes of a "creator-being" (as usually described) are untenable and obviously impossible, yet the beliefs persist.
      What could cause this? Many experiments have been done on people that show how incredibly easy it is to indoctrinate people using the simplest of tactics. And there are such proven things as hypnotism and self-hypnotism. So other people are not necessarily required for indoctrination into anything in particular.
      So we return to physics and can only come to the tentative conclusion that there are no supernatural or for that matter super-dimensional causes for any of the effects we see in the physical universe.

      Then, having given a few religious readers a hint about their lack of proper direction, we move on to the even more basic requirement of something resembling a "control group" for any testable hypothesis.
      Yet despite the sheer volume and diversity of options open for a supernatural being to communicate with human beings (or any physical creatures) or ways to control physical aspects of this universe, we see nothing to indicate that this is happening or ever happened in a supernatural way, and we see nothing that indicates any supernatural energy being used to influence our physical universe with any discernible effect.

      Sorry I went on for so long. I was bored again and you inspired me to expwnd on the fundies. 😀

      March 26, 2011 at 2:02 am |
    • Jeanine

      Whhooppss! I should add that if any supernatural energy IS being used to affect this physical universe, it does not show any sign of conscious intent, design, pattern, or tendency. Stark physics is all that has been observed to date.

      But we keep asking if there is any proof available to no avail. It is too hard for believers in the supernatural to consider outside viewpoints – showing us a higher likelyhood that their beliefs are delusional and caused by simple psychological tricks instead of anything corresponding to reality.
      But some of the people can be pretty nice. It is just sad that their views on some things are skewed as a result of their delusions. No one likes to think of mental illness in those they care about, and there is a very real social stigma attached to most forms of mental illness.
      The good news is that the potential for mental illness is obviously a basic genetic trait of every human being, and so we might be able to reverse its effects on everyone with the proper advances in technology. Looks like it might be awhile, though....
      Unfortunately, the good news is also the BAD news, too!
      If everyone has the potential for mental illness, and it's a basic genetic trait, then it would go a long way towards showing us where research and development need to be focused.
      It's not going to do anyone any good if they win a global thermonuclear war only to murder each other in a religious war or something irrational like that.
      Don't you just love PwE? Such irony! So close and yet so far! It was pretty entertaining to surf my way here and see what he was up to!
      I couldn't resist the temptation to jabber away, so anyone reading this far is being entertained by my simplistic mental gymnastics, I hope. People like Pwe are rare. He is going to "clever" his way right out of his god pretty quick I think.
      Thanks Atheism for inspiring me! Have a good weekend, everybody!

      March 26, 2011 at 2:27 am |
    • Lycidas

      "What we know of neurology so far is enough to show any reasonable person that religion and associated schizophrenic phenomena are all too easily explained by simple chemistry and physics."

      Wow..comparing those that believe in something with a mental illness, you are a jerk and a dumb one at that. You implied on here that you once had a belief, I guess you must have mental problems then as well?

      March 28, 2011 at 3:42 pm |
  10. Hugh Jarce

    That's because as people become better educated, religion will slowly and mercifully die out.

    The days of the Great Space Ghost are definitely numbered.

    March 24, 2011 at 5:43 pm |
    • Pathos with Ethos

      hmm, sounds like you have hope. Gasp, you better be careful holding onto those unproven and potentially spiritual aspects like that.

      March 24, 2011 at 5:59 pm |
    • mantaec

      Yes. And also CNN did a story about those that are not believing anymore. It's about time that people quit believing in fairy tales and get a life. There is no Santa or Bunny get a life and get a job if you can and quit praying for one...action wins.

      March 24, 2011 at 6:02 pm |
    • Pathos with Ethos

      @mantaec -So says a person wasting there time on this thread and hoping that someone cares what they say.

      Perhaps you can put away your fantasies and myths that anyone cares what you say? Or perhaps you can quit worshipping your ego, the same ego that will probably make you feel compelled to respond to my message. My gosh you are as chaotic as any religious person.

      March 24, 2011 at 6:09 pm |
    • Susan

      "Or perhaps you can quit worshipping your ego" – Pathos you are the one with the ego, but you won't recognize it since you are to into yourself.

      March 24, 2011 at 9:42 pm |
    • Pathos with Ethos

      An interesting but faulty conclusion. Seems that whenever ppl on here that think they are clever with their anti-religious ways get burned a little, they get so whiny. Hardly the behavior I expect from those thinking they are intellectuals.

      March 24, 2011 at 10:13 pm |
    • TerryTowel

      Pathos, Did you know that Anglicans sometimes welcome ho-mose-xuals in their church?
      And there are many other American churches that welcome members of the LGBT community, as well.
      Don't be afraid, they'll be gentle. Love is love. 😉

      March 25, 2011 at 2:54 am |
    • Ethos with pathos

      @Terry- I am sure your know from experience that they are.

      If the Anglicans want them there, then that's their right. Has anyone said otherwise?

      March 25, 2011 at 3:28 pm |
  11. Colin vs Gravity

    "Few Americans" = "Too Many Americans."

    March 24, 2011 at 5:42 pm |
    • Pathos with Ethos

      Why?

      March 24, 2011 at 5:58 pm |
  12. pegger

    You religious people are somewhat crazy for thinking your god did any of this. You listen to Glen Beck too much. If your so called god was responsible everyone should quit believing because he is your devil in disguise. He would be a murderer.

    March 24, 2011 at 5:41 pm |
    • Atheism is the only truth

      funny how no religious people reply to your post.

      March 25, 2011 at 12:18 am |
    • Ethos with pathos

      Why is it funny?

      March 25, 2011 at 3:25 pm |
  13. QS

    "Fifty-six percent of all respondents said they believe God is in control of everything that happens in the world, according to the poll. And 7 in 10 Americans believe God is a person with whom a person can have a relationship, according to the poll."

    Saddest thing I've heard in some time.

    March 24, 2011 at 5:41 pm |
    • PraiseTheLard

      "Saddest thing I've heard in some time."

      Look at the positive side... It could have been 57 percent and 8 in 10...

      March 24, 2011 at 5:45 pm |
    • QS

      Good point, I sometimes get so caught up in the fact that there are still so many people being deceived by this religion thing that I forget much of the time that things ARE actually improving somewhat.

      Thanks for the reminder! 🙂

      March 24, 2011 at 6:19 pm |
  14. Brandie Thomas CCBC

    Media is funny to me; they have the most power over the people. They control what we hear and talk about. The media decides what we think is important, of course I feel it’s wrong but there’s not much I can do other than take my attention elsewhere. I use to work for a photography journalism company and I’d see all the time how we write about a story then months later the main stream news would decide it was important and talk about it. I understand it’s there decision what they talk about but I wish there was a better for more stories to get out to the public instead of consistently talking about the same ones.

    March 24, 2011 at 5:40 pm |
  15. MS

    Stupidity is alive and well

    March 24, 2011 at 5:40 pm |
    • slipheart

      Proves their god is a blond.

      March 24, 2011 at 5:53 pm |
    • Chakka

      and is rather pi$$ed off!

      March 24, 2011 at 10:35 pm |
  16. Roger

    3 in 10is FEW? 1 in 10 is few, 3 in ten is huge. Thats 100 million morons in this country.

    March 24, 2011 at 5:39 pm |
  17. SDFrankie

    Hey, listen to me! I'm a prophet. In fact, I'm THE prophet. Listen carefully as I foretell the future. Listen very carefully. If it doesn't make sense to you, it's because of something wrong with YOU, not me. The wise will hear the truth of what I say. Later we'll discuss where to send the money. Anyway, here are my omniscient predictions:
    1. Earthquakes! There will be great quaking and shaking. Many will die, but some will not.
    2. Floods. Don't worry, the entire earth will not be flooded. But some places will be flooded. Some deeply, some not so deeply. Many will perish in these floods but many other will not. Remember I said that.
    3. Heat. There will be record setting heat-waves in some parts of the earth. Many will die from the heat but many will not.
    4. Snow. There will be snow such as none living can remember. Many will die etc etc.
    5. War. There are going to be horrible wars across the planet. Many will......
    6. TV. Some of your favorite shows will be cancelled.
    7. Lying leaders. Leaders will be raised up, appearing to be just but, lo, they shall be found to be unjust. Seriously, bet the house on this one.
    8. Jesus is coming. Soon. Not today. Not this year or anything. But soon. Be ready. But, you know, don't get all crazy because it's not going to be THAT soon. Just soon.

    March 24, 2011 at 5:38 pm |
    • steve

      Okay, got it! Call me if you see him coming...I want to hide the beer!

      March 24, 2011 at 5:49 pm |
    • Sirena

      HA! I love this!

      March 24, 2011 at 5:57 pm |
    • kite005

      Wise one tell me, does God watch reality shows?

      March 24, 2011 at 6:54 pm |
    • Atheism is the only truth

      Awesome post SDFrankie! hahaha

      March 25, 2011 at 12:17 am |
    • Ethos with pathos

      Actually, Frankie doesn't really know what a prophet is or what they do. Just like you don't Reality.

      March 25, 2011 at 3:24 pm |
  18. kaygee

    What are you all talking about? God doesn't care about this stuff. He's far more concerned with the outcomes of professional sports games.

    March 24, 2011 at 5:38 pm |
    • pothead

      god has never won a game...if he had, there would be no more games!

      March 24, 2011 at 5:45 pm |
    • BL

      Good point, but I believe he just likes to watch, doesn't care that much about outcome

      March 24, 2011 at 5:51 pm |
  19. AJM

    There is no dog, I mean god. That is all.

    March 24, 2011 at 5:37 pm |
    • slipheart

      My dog is much more believable then a silly god!

      March 24, 2011 at 5:43 pm |
  20. Robble

    What about Jews? They're the ones with the vengeful god. How come they weren't asked? They could have pushed the stats the other way...

    March 24, 2011 at 5:37 pm |
    • Pathos with Ethos

      Oddly enough, most Christians and Muslims share the same God as Jewish ppl.

      March 24, 2011 at 5:39 pm |
    • Joe G

      In what way is 38% "Few Americans"? That's an enormous chunk of insane people.

      March 24, 2011 at 5:42 pm |
    • donna

      They were the ones with the vengeful god? All three Abrahamic religions: Islam, Judaism, and Christianity, are based on the mythologies of the same vengeful god.

      March 24, 2011 at 5:49 pm |
    • SurelyUjest

      The studies clearly show 100 % of evangelicals have been taught to live in fear of God.

      March 24, 2011 at 5:51 pm |
    • El Kababa

      Pathos, I understand your meaning, but if you look at just Christians you will find hundreds of Christian gods. In every case their gods have the same names: Yahweh, God, Jesus, the Holy Ghost, and Satan. The occasional angel is merely a supernatural gofer, not a real god. It's like knowing (I live in the Southwest) a hundred guys named Jesus Hernandez. They have the same name, but they are 100 different men. The God of evangelicals is a very different Guy than the God of the Catholics who is very different than the God of the Witnesses of Jehovah. Christianity is not a monotheistic religion. It has hundreds of Gods who all have the same name.

      March 24, 2011 at 5:52 pm |
    • Pathos with Ethos

      @El Kababa- I must politely disagree with your opinion on the number of Christian "gods".

      March 24, 2011 at 5:57 pm |
    • El Kababa

      I take your meaning, Pathos. I am not a Christian in any sense except that I have inherited Christian values from a Christian culture. I have no belief at all in supernatural beings. I must say that Christianity has produced some of the best people. That group of Christians who believes that good people cooperate with other good people for the common good is the one I mean. The group of Christians who feed the hungry, shelter the homeless, heal the sick, comfort the dying, nurture the young are the good ones. Those Christians who practice what they preach, treat others as they would like to be treated, and view all humanity as their brothers and sisters are the miracle of Christianity. I like the Christians who are kind whenever they can be. They are honest. They are the very best of men and women. They are not typical of Christians, but it was Christianity that produced them. Christianity also produced Mormonism, the Branch Davidians, people who babble in tongues, parents who pray for their sick child instead of taking him to the doctor, and all kinds of nutty and harmful religions. They all call their gods God, but I think God is just a fantasy being. He is Whatever the particular Christian thinks He is.

      March 24, 2011 at 6:18 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.